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"Webtoberfest" Has German Flair

November 2002
By Mark Michelson


SEWICKLEY, PA—The weather was warm and the leaves still green on trees blanketing the hills surrounding the headquarters of the Graphic Arts Technical Foundation (GATF), located just outside of Pittsburgh. But Christmas still came early with the official dedication of its recently donated four-color, 38˝ MAN Roland Rotoman heatset commercial web press equipped with auxiliaries gifted from several manufacturers.

Held September 19th, the "Webtoberfest" celebration—complete with German fare, oompah music, and an assortment of German Octoberfest beers and wine—was attended by about 350 industry dignitaries, including GATF board members and staff, industry suppliers, association execs, as well as a special delegation from MAN Roland's headquarters in Augsburg, Germany.

Research and Training Tool

"This is more than a dedication of a new press. This is a launch of a new era for web offset lithography," proclaimed Jerry Williamson, chairman of Dallas-based Williamson Printing and current GATF chairman, during the ceremony. "The research and training centered around this press will, in turn, boost general automation, quality and productivity in our industry—the third largest manufacturing industry in America."

From an R&D standpoint, GATF hopes to evaluate a new waste reduction technology called Quickstart, develop an analytical skill set for press operators, work on techniques to minimize web breaks, develop press operating conditions matched to specific paper stocks and study ways to reduce energy consumption.

According to MAN Roland and GATF officials, there are several reason why the press is well suited as a research device, including:

* Shaftless Design. The Rotoman uses independent motors to power each printing unit and other items separately. It enables independent makeready and setup of the printing units and the folder. It also affords GATF researchers greater flexibility and control for better diagnostic capabilities.

* AC Drives. In lieu of more common DC (direct current) drive systems, MAN Roland and Siemens partnered for a press with an electronic main shaft, gearing and couplings, rather than mechanical. More importantly for GATF researchers, the AC (alternating current) drive system enables signals to be sent and data to be collected on press operations.

* Fiber Optics. The AC drive system is electrically synchronized by MAN's PECOM system to maintain speed, tension and register. Moreover, the PECOM central control console monitors and controls the printing process, in-line finishing, register controls, and blanket and chill roll washers.

* Data Collection. The AC drive system provides signals to the PECOM system on operating conditions. GATF will analyze this data to obtain optimum press operating conditions and to aid in the development of new materials and consumables.
 

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